For engaged couples preparing to host their big day in beautiful Mississippi, there’s a lot of decisions ahead. Maybe you’re planning on the big, formal traditional wedding you’ve always dreamed of. Or maybe yours will be a rustic affair that’s more relaxed and intimate.
No matter what type of wedding you’re planning, the one thing you’ll need in every scenario is the marriage license.
Rules and regulations around marriage licenses change from state to state, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with Mississippi’s procedures and requirements well before the big day. That’s where we come in.
To get married in the U.S., you’ll need a marriage license, no matter what state you’re in. Think of the license as an application to get married. You need a marriage license from the county where you’ll be getting married for your marriage to be valid in the eyes of the government.
In some states, there are waiting periods and expiration dates on marriage licenses. Make sure you’re familiar with the local marriage regulations, so you don’t run into any hiccups on the big day. If you come across any odd or unusual requirements in your research (or later in this article!), add it to your Zola wedding checklist so you can be prepared for every situation.
Here’s a general outline of the marriage license application process:
Decide which county you’re getting married in. Will you wed in Jackson or Southaven? Wherever you end up, you’ll want to make sure you get your license from that county’s clerk. Use the Mississippi.gov clerk list to find the right location.
Visit the county clerk’s office where you intend to get married in person. Both you and your spouse-to-be need to be present.
Fill out an application form for a marriage license.
Meet state and county requirements and provide the necessary documents (more on that in a bit).
Timelines for application processes can vary as well, depending on the location and your situation, so make sure you plan around that if timing is an issue.
Next, we’ll go over some of the nitty-gritty details of the application procedure, so you’ll know exactly what you need to make the process as smooth and easy as possible.
Good news: You don’t need to be a resident to get married in Mississippi. But whether you’re a born-and-bred Mississippian or just an admirer of historic Southern charm, you’ll still need to apply for your marriage license in person. That might mean a little pre-wedding getaway trip to Mississippi with your fiance, or just a short drive up into town.
Whatever the case may be, be sure to have all the necessary items to submit your application successfully. Before you set out, make sure you have:
The names and addresses of both applicants.
The names and addresses of both of the applicants’ parents (or the next of kin or guardian).
Highest education completed for both parties.
Number of previous marriages, and when and how they ended. If you or your spouse ended another marriage in the last six months, you’ll need to bring proof of divorce or the death of your spouse. A copy of the divorce decree or a death certificate should suffice.
In some states, you may need a witness to sign the license with you. Usually, the clerk can act as a witness if you need one. Mississippi doesn’t require witnesses, but if it’s meaningful for you, you can always bring your best friend or sibling along for the ride.
Proof of identification and the applicants’ age.
Documents that are deemed acceptable forms of identification and proof of age include:
After your union has been officiated and your marriage license signed by all parties, it’s your officiant’s responsibility to file it with the local government. This process registers your marriage on the public record, and you should receive a marriage certificate as proof in the next few weeks.
You might be tempted to sail off into your happily ever after as soon as you’ve been issued a license. But before you start popping the Champagne, make sure you’re familiar with all the ins and outs of your Mississippi marriage license. When it comes to weddings, there’s no such thing as being overprepared.
Some states mandate a waiting period of a few days after your application before you’re issued a marriage license, so that you have time to mull over your decision. This can throw a wrench in your plans if you’ve already booked a venue or if you’re trying to be spontaneous. In Mississippi, however, there is no waiting period if you’re over 21. This means that you can get married the same day you’re issued your marriage license.
If you’re under 21, and over 17 (or 15, if you’re female), you’ll need:
This waiting period is waived if you’re over 21, so if you’re not under the age limit you can get married as soon as you’ve been issued a license.
Luckily in Mississippi, there’s no expiration date on marriage licenses. That means that you can get yours issued in advance and get married whenever you’re ready.
The flexibility of getting your marriage license in Mississippi means you don’t need to rush the other parts of your wedding. And with one less thing on your to-do list, you’ll have more time to think about which dinnerware to add to your Zola wedding registry.
No, blood tests aren’t required to get a marriage license in Mississippi.
Since there’s no expiration date or waiting period, the beauty of getting your marriage license in Mississippi is that you can do it whenever you want.
You could get a license issued as soon as you’re engaged and wait years before deciding you’re ready to make it official. Or, you could get your license and get married the next day. Typically, though, we recommend giving yourself at least a week in advance in case of any unforeseen complications.
While obtaining a marriage license is relatively simple in Mississippi, there’s always the chance that your application may be denied or the license invalidated.
In general, it’s up to you and your partner to make sure you’re complying with all the requirements and regulations in good faith. You may be in violation and your license invalidated if the following applies:
You or your partner falsified information on the marriage license application.
If one or both of you are minors or under 21 and applying for a license without parental consent.
Either applicants were forced to apply for the license and did—or were not able to—consent to the application. If one or both are incapable of consent due to mental illness or incompetence, the license is rendered invalid.
If the divorce of one or both of you from a previous marriage was not legally binding.
If your marriage license was issued between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. It’s illegal for a clerk to grant a license within those hours, so keep an eye on the time if you’re visiting the county clerk at the end of the day.
As long as you’re following all the rules, have all the necessary documents, and pay your marriage license fee, getting your marriage license in Mississippi should be a breeze.
Every state has its quirks when it comes to matrimony. For example, in Wisconsin, you can get legally married to the home you live in.
Mississippi’s got its own set of marriage laws, too. If you’re planning to get married in this state, it might be a good idea to review this list of unique marriage laws, so you know what to take note of:
In order to get married in Mississippi, a male applicant needs to be at least 17 years old, while a female applicant needs to be at least 15. Applicants under 21 years old need their parents’ or guardians’ consent in order to get married.
Bigamy is illegal in Mississippi, so if you’ve been married before, make sure all your paperwork is wrapped up before you embark on your new union. In fact, in Mississippi, it’s against the law to even explain what polygamy is.
Cousin marriages and other incestuous marital unions are not legal in Mississippi.
When it comes to your marriage, there’s no question too big or too small. Here are some frequently asked questions about marriage in Mississippi:
No. You can get married as long as you receive a Mississippi marriage license from the county where you plan to wed.
Some states allow for proxy weddings. Marriage by proxy occurs when one or both parties aren’t physically present at the wedding and are instead represented by other people. Unfortunately, Mississippi doesn’t recognize proxy weddings.
A common-law marriage legally recognizes a couple as a married couple—even if they haven’t applied for a license or held a ceremony. Only a handful of states recognize common-law marriage, and unfortunately, Mississippi isn’t one of them.
Yes. As of 2015, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex marriage is legal in Mississippi.
The two are easily confused, so don’t worry if you’re not sure how to differentiate the two. As we’ve already covered, you need a marriage license in order to get married. The certificate is what you get back as proof of your marriage after everything is signed and sealed.
That segues perfectly into our next segment: What happens after you get your marriage license?
Once you have your marriage license, you’re free to get married in whatever fashion you want—and in Mississippi, whenever you want. Remember, there’s no expiration on the license.
When you’re ready to tie the knot, the license should be signed by you, your new spouse(!), and the officiant. It needs to be sent back and filed with the county clerk that issued your license.
Make sure you get copies of your marriage certificate after you file your signed license. This document serves as proof of your legally binding union
If you’re trying to decide between marriage or a domestic partnership, it’s important to understand the differences. Depending on where you live, a domestic partnership might not be recognized by the local government, which might mean you don’t have the same rights a married couple would have.
Two people who are living together, but not married or united in a civil union or any other legally recognized contract can be considered to have a domestic partnership. You might have some of the same rights a married couple has, such as shared healthcare benefits, but it’s largely dependent on where you live.
Domestic partnerships were common among some same-sex couples before same-sex marriage was legalized on the federal level in 2015. However, they remain a possible option for couples of all sexual orientations who may not for one reason or another wish to get married. Keep in mind that benefits for domestic partnerships vary from state to state.
Domestic partnership rights in each state can be broken down into three classifications:
Mississippi is a “No Rights” state, so that means that if you opt for a domestic partnership in this state, you won’t have any of the benefits you would have as a married couple. If rights such as tax benefits, inheritance laws, or shared healthcare are a priority for you and your partner, then you should reconsider getting married in Mississippi.
With its reputation for phenomenal hospitality, it’s no surprise that Mississippi is a fantastic place to throw a wedding. There are countless wedding venue options, from farmhouses full of rustic charm and romance to modern museums that offer a hint of eclectic style to your big day.
If you’re hosting your special day in Mississippi, keep these tips and tricks in mind during the wedding planning process:
Timing: Spring and fall are the most popular seasons to host a wedding in the South. You’ll be able to enjoy the glorious foliage on your big day, but be aware that prices may go up during peak wedding season. You’ll also want to avoid big national holidays and busy weekends if you’re concerned about budget.
Plan for the Weather: Mississippi is mild and warm year-round, making it an ideal location if you’d like to consider fall and winter weddings. However, summers can be humid and hot, so beware of sudden thunderstorms when planning your special day.
Make Sure Your Vendors Can Work Together: You may have had your dream Mississippian venue picked out since you were 12, but there’s plenty of decisions to make during wedding planning. Make sure all the vendors you choose can work with your venue. After you’ve booked your wedding DJ, you don’t want to find out that there’s no in-house sound system.
If you’re having trouble finding the right local vendors, you can always browse Zola’s list of prescreened wedding vendors. We do our best to make the search as streamlined and stress-free as possible by filtering by location and wedding style.
Knowing the ins and outs of your local marriage laws is always a good idea when getting married, particularly when timing is an issue in the wedding plans. Thankfully in Mississippi, the process for marriage license applications is relatively simple and easy. As long as you’ve reviewed everything we’ve covered, getting a license should be a breeze.
With all the legal paperwork wrapped up, you’ll be able to refocus your energies on planning the other details of your special day. Zola can help you.
Not sure where to get started? Use our wedding planning timeline and checklist to make sure you’re hitting everything on your list on schedule.